The other day I received a nice email from a woman who shared, “I was at the conference in Milwaukee last week and really enjoyed your message — thank you! Very positive and I just left thinking…wow, they must have a really fun marriage.”
What a nice thing to say and very timely, since we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary the same week. Man, if every decade goes this fast then I might as well accept the fact that I’m going to be ninety years old in about 25 seconds. Seriously. Ladies and gentlemen: time is not our friend.
Jason and I are a good team. Usually people who are having fun make it look easy, but in the case of marriage, it is something you really have to work at. There’s a fine line between routine and boredom, and between being comfortable and taking things for granted. So, in reflecting on these amazingly awesome 10 years with Jason I’ve identified my 5 MUSTS for a meaningful marriage. Give ‘em a read and let me know what makes your marriage meaningful. Here’s to ten years and counting…
1. Find Your Daily Ritual
Married couples need a regular connecting point. We love to go on walks together. This is something we started when we were dating and has continued ever since. It’s typically the time when we process things together, brainstorm creative solutions to seemingly impossible challenges, and simply catch up with one another. It’s a time we both look forward to.
Find a ritual that you treasure together — that thing that you like to do that keeps you connected and communicating. Maybe it’s sharing the porch swing with your morning coffee, enjoying a leisurely dinner together, or carpooling to work. Life’s so busy, it’s easy to let the days slip away without taking the extra effort to make it happen.
2. Stay Seriously Silly
When a couple is dating, silliness comes pretty naturally. It’s part of flirting. Spontaneous things like jumping in a rain puddle together or having a pillow fight are two examples of courtship hijinks that you don’t often see years later. Once the day-to-day sinks in, this silliness often fades away and when one of the pair tries to invite it, it’s sometimes unwelcome. Well, silliness is like glue in a relationship. A couple MUST, I repeat MUST, work at and meet a certain silliness quota to stay happy (and sane) together. So, hide a toy in your spouse’s shoe, draw a silly picture for your spouse to find, or tape a cup to the top of your car and drive around together. Get serious about not taking yourselves too seriously.
3. Refuel The Friendship
Some of you may not agree with me on this one, but I stand firm in saying: Your spouse should be your best friend! There… I said it. I know it’s controversial, but I can’t see it any other way. This doesn’t mean that you have to be able to spend Saturday at the mall together clothes shopping and giddily sipping coffee drinks, but it does mean that when you have something awesome happen to you, your spouse is the first person you can’t wait to tell. If you are truly planning on being together until “death do us part” (which I should hope is your goal), then you had better not rely on his/her good looks — HA! Refueling the friendship is going to make the day-to-day a lot richer. Loving someone and liking them can often look very different and a meaningful marriage has both.
4. Be Partners in Crime
What were you meant to accomplish together? It’s essential to remember that it’s not all about what the marriage is bringing you. I believe marriage is a holy union. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20). It’s a union that demonstrates something to the world.
What is your marriage saying to the world?
We often get asked why we waited so long to have kids, since we love children so much. Really, we only waited a few months. We consider our business to be our first child — born from our hearts in August 2000, just 3 months after we were married. We spent many nights awake investing in this “baby.” Lots of sacrifice and loads of joy. But you don’t have to start a business to have a meaningful marriage. Are you raising kids together? Are you caring for your parents as a team? Maybe you’re both passionate about a particular charity and invest time with that? Find your “thing” and do it well together!
5. Give Space To Grow
I promised myself I would keep up on the weeds in our flower beds this spring. If a few weeks go by, the weeds just take over. The reality is that the flowers do suffer. They need space to grow and those darn weeds like to take it from them.
The weeds in your own life are things like optional chores, useless busyness, and unnecessary worrying. Time that you usually spend on these things can be spent breathing, reading, and filling your cup back up, so that you can continue to pour yourself out to your spouse, family, co-workers and friends. Just as the space between musical notes makes the symphony, the healthy independence of two individuals in a relationship makes a super meaningful marriage.
So how about you? What makes your marriage meaningful?
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